Why “Environments”?

These are difficult times for educational and cultural institutions increasingly impaired by an epidemic of public disinvestment. Moreover, the last few years have seen the global rise of media markets that traffic in fanciful simplifications, fake news, bigotry and denialism, while dismissing evidence-based knowledge and basic human empathy. But this is also why we see a renewed urgency for the Arts and Humanities to reclaim a position of centrality in public discourse; to weigh in on the big issues of our time, from climate change denial to the rise of fundamentalism and authoritarianism around the world. The Public Humanities provide crucial spaces to help us reimagine, transform, and regenerate our world.

This year’s 3-day Festival will feature talks, music, performances, community debates, and other activities on the theme of “Environments,” focusing on issues of environmental justice and economic sustainability, local and regional activism and planning, and the global climate change crisis.

We hope you will join us for what is guaranteed to be a dynamic conversation between authors, scholars, activists, artists, and the Western New York community – pushing forward our visions for the future through this festival of ideas.

Stay tuned for the announcement of all of this year’s participants!

 

 

image: Global Action Day in Copenhagen. December 2009. america.govhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/4179185792. Transferred from da.wikipedia to Commons by Thomas81 using CommonsHelper. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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2017 Spotlight Speaker: Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty  thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.

OilAndHoney-LowResThe Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.”

A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books,National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors . In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat— Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor.